Another story about a child finding a gun, shooting (and killing) others

In a never ending story, yet another child has shot someone after discovering a gun in the house. I had been pulling together another post, when the following news article caught my eye in yesterday’s newspaper, “4-year-old accidentally shot by juvenile with unsecured weapon in Charlotte, police say” by Jonathan Limehouse of The Charlotte Observer. The full story follows, but I did provide a link below.

“A 4-year-old is in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after being accidentally shot by another juvenile in a northwest Charlotte home Monday morning, police said.

Around 11:30 a.m., Charlotte-Mecklenburg police responded to an assault with a deadly weapon call in the 2100 block of Long Ridge Lane. Upon arrival, officers found the 4-year-old victim with a gunshot wound.

Based on initial evidence, police said another juvenile found an unsecured firearm inside the home and accidentally shot the victim.

Detectives are currently speaking with the adults who were inside the home at the time of the shooting, police said.

Police did not specify the relationship between the victim and the juvenile who fired the gun.

RECENT SHOOTINGS INVOLVING YOUTH, UNSECURED FIREARMS

▪ On Aug. 8, a 2-year-old boy in Gastonia shot and killed his father, Markovia LaShawn Durham, at his grandmother’s home.

“He thought it was a toy,” the child’s grandmother told Observer news partner WBTV.

The .40-caliber Glock handgun “was not properly secured at the time,” the Gaston Gazette reported.

Durham, 29, was feeding his son when the incident happened, the grandmother told WBTV.

▪ On the morning of July 24, a 14-year-old accidentally shot his 12-year-old brother in west Charlotte.

The 12-year-old was seriously injured, police said.

The 14-year-old was charged with possession of a handgun, which he found walking to a store near his house, the boy’s mother told WSOC-TV.

Police ruled this shooting an accident.

▪ A mother of five was accidentally killed in Cornelius on Feb. 15 when her children found a gun in her purse, according to Cornelius police.

Police found Gabriel Alexis Henderson, 25, in a back bedroom of her apartment. Medic pronounced her dead on the scene.

Investigators determined that the only people in the home at the time of the shooting was Henderson and her five children. The oldest child was in the living room, while the other four were in the bedroom playing with a small semi automatic handgun they found in Henderson’s purse, police said.

The mother’s youngest child also was shot but suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

YOUTH, HANDGUN SHOOTING STATISTICS

An estimated 4.6 million American children live in homes with at least one gun that is loaded and unlocked, according to Everytown Research.

▪ There have been at least 239 unintentional shootings by children this year, resulting in 94 deaths and 157 injuries nationally.

▪ In North Carolina this year, there have been at least 12 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in seven deaths and six injuries.

▪ Last year, there were 15 unintentional shootings in the state, which resulted in six deaths and nine injuries.

▪ In 2019, there were at least seven unintentional shootings by children, resulting in just eight injuries in North Carolina.

▪ In 2018, there were at least eight unintentional shootings by children, resulting in two deaths and six injuries in North Carolina.”

I actually called the reporter and thanked him for his well-done article, including citing other recent shootings and child gun deaths over the last few years. To be brutally frank, this story could have been written at any time in any major city in America.

I blame cowardly politicians who are funded by the gun manufacturing industry who routinely tell us “now is the not the time” to address better gun governance. Well, right now, this is not about a mass shooting, although they are fairly routine in America. This is about what happens on a daily basis.

Guns need not be taken away, but we as a country need to have more accountability to owning a weapon designed to kill people. We govern driving a car better than we do owning a gun. It truly saddens me that someone dies at the hands of a child who stumbles onto a gun. It is especially painful when it is a child who is the victim. Plus the shooter has to live with the trauma of causing the death of another.

Responsible gun owners have stated publicly that they support better measures. Yet, the lobbyists from the gun industry keep stating the broken record of that is a “slippery slope.” Mr. Politician, I do not want to hear more platitudes of “thoughts and prayers” and I especially do not want to hear from gun industry sycophants giving me the party line of second amendment rights. Measures can be taken to make us safer and if won’t do it for adults, let’s at least do it for the children.

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article253525709.html

Friday foibles

We are an imperfect lot, replete with various flaws and foibles. So, on this Friday, let me speak of a few foibles.

If patience is a virtue, does that make impatience a vice? Due diligence is predicated on taking the time to review candidates, agreements, deals, plans, research, etc. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. A reporter just got his hat handed to him by the White House press secretary for the second time in two weeks for failing to be prepared when he asked what he thought were zingers.

Ignoring the truth does not make it less true. It just means you are ignoring the truth. The Arkansas state legislature just passed a law allowing creationism to be taught as science in public schools, by a vote of 72 to 21. Really? Is next up teaching kids that dragons are dinosaurs that walked the earth the same time as humans?

Gun deaths in America annually exceed the number of gun deaths in the next twenty-three wealthiest nations combined. Since Congress is failing to act, as we hear yet again now is not the time to do anything to improve gun governance, President Biden is making some executive actions to do something. There are certain measures that the significant majority of Americans and gun owners think are reasonable. Congress, please get up off your hind end and do them. You are in my thoughts and prayers to act like parents and grandparents and not like a well-funded politicians.

Finally, we have yet one more male politician who has decided to think with a lower organ than his brain. And, what is funny is he thought he would not be discovered. Quite simply, men and women both do dumb things in the name of sexual satisfaction. Yet, male politicians seem to think they are immune to discovery like they have anti-Kryptonite suits. It should be noted that both mainstream political parties are not immune from the lower organ thinkers in their party. The question must always be – has the person’s actions damaged the integrity of the office he holds?

To sum up avoiding these foibles this Friday – be patient, be diligent, be truthful, act prudently and use that organ three feet above the other one to think with.

,

Welcome to America, I hope you are packing heat – a reprise of a still relevant post

The following post was written almost eight years ago, but as you read it, the events seem to come right out of today’s headlines. This is one topic I am truly tired of writing about, as lobbyists have hobbled the ability for legislators to act like parents and spouses and do something. Americans have said in surveys they want, yet nothing gets done. It reveals who butters the bread for these politicians. At this moment, one more shooting has occurred in Virginia. After Colorado. After Atlanta….

I have written several posts about our excessive gun violence in America. We lead the world by far in gun deaths and children gun deaths. Yet, we continue to do nothing about it. We have a parade of children led shootings at schools the past few weeks, yet we continue to do nothing about it. Pick up any US newspaper anywhere in the country and count the number of gun death or violence stories. I wrote a post about Googling a “six-year-old kills four-year-old” and counting the number of stories that pop up. Yet, we still do nothing about it. We have mass shootings, which are horrific tragedies, but dwarfed by the daily killings of kids, yet we still do nothing about it. And, Americans by virtue of reputable surveys, clearly want better background checks and more elongated waiting periods, yet we still do nothing about it.

Here are a few links to these previous posts.

I am thinking of the person who finally asked Senator Joe McCarthy during his communist witch hunt trials, “Senator, have you no shame?” That was actually the beginning of the end for McCarthy. I fully recognize the complexity of what is causing gun deaths, but the NRA and strident gun amassers would like you to believe that guns have little to do with gun deaths. Responsible gun owners know this not to be the case, which is why they take great pains to teach their use and put them away for safekeeping. So, using the McCarthy line above, “NRA, have you no shame?”

We are well past the time to act on these issues. It is a poverty issue, it is mental health issue, it is a lack of civil discourse issue, it is a violence in entertainment issue, but make no mistake about it, it is an access to guns issue. Without access to a weapon, the child does not kill his sibling or cousin. Without access to a weapon, the depressed teenager, college student or adult does not act on an impulse and end a life. Without access to a weapon a drunken patron at a bar or ball game does not go to his car and come back guns a blazing because they were offended.

NRA, have you no shame? You could have acted responsibly like the majority of gun owners, yet you decided to fan the flames of a fervent crowd and crow about Second Amendment rights, which I still have not seen anyone threaten. You have also usurped the leadership of the GOP and taken them down a darker path along with some other fervent misconceptions. As a result, we cannot have the long overdue civil, appropriate debate about this topic looking at all issues, including what Americans, even Republicans want by far – better background checks and elongated waiting periods. We should do more than that, but those two issues are no brainers and largely popular.

It is past time. NRA, have you no shame? NRA, stand down. We need to have a better conversation without your involvement, as you violated the trust of Americans and responsible gun owners, whom you no longer represent.

Martin Luther King’s advice on avoiding violence – a reprise

The following post was written about nine years ago, but still resonates today.

Martin Luther King once said, “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very things it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, it merely increases the hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

These aspirational words ring true even today. A historian made a comment on the news the other day, saying the only thing man has been very good at since the beginning is killing people. To many people have died when leaders say I want what you have or you are different from us or you worship the wrong way. On this latter point, one of the keys to our founding father’s separation of church and state in the US constitution and bill of rights was a comment made by Thomas Jefferson who noted that Europe had been awash in blood due to religious zeal and he did not want religious zeal doing the same in our country. This runs counter to self-proclaimed constitutionalists who want a national or state religion and don’t realize they are advocating against the constitution.

My blogging friend George Dowdell has written a thought-provoking post about “No More Us and Them.” A link to his post is below.* When religious leaders exclude, they create this kind of divide. Yet, when religious leaders are inclusive, religion is at its finest. Just witness the actions of the people’s Pope Francis to see what one leader can do. We should follow his lead. We must do our best to be bridge builders. We must do our best to condemn intolerant thinking and action. We must do our best to not condone violence. We must do our best to control the proliferation of violent tools to people who should not have them and govern all owners of them well, as these tools are designed to kill. We must do our best to work toward civil discourse when disagreements occur. And, we must not tolerate treating women as second class citizens or even assets, which is even further demeaning.

I recognize we all cannot be like Atticus Finch (see Emily J’s post on “The Perfect Book: To Kill a Mockingbird” with the link below **) and wipe the spit away borne from someone looking for a fight, but he shows us what real courage looks like. It takes more courage not to fight back when it would have been so easy to do so. I recognize we cannot all be like Gandhi whose example was studied, admired and copied by Martin Luther King showing that civil disobedience is far more powerful than violence. I recognize we call cannot be like Mother Teresa who just went around helping people and praying with them not caring how they worshiped. And, I realize we cannot all be like Jesus who uttered the words we should all live by and can be found in other religious texts – treat others like you want to be treated.

We must treat others like we want in return. We must elevate women in a world to equal footing with men. We must challenge our historical texts which were written by imperfect men to diminish women. We must be the ones who lift others up. If we don’t then we will continue to be our own worst enemy and do what we are good at – violence and killing.

http://georgedowdell.org/2014/06/10/no-more-us-and-them/

** http://thebookshelfofemilyj.com/2014/06/09/the-perfect-book-to-kill-a-mockingbird/

Three more local children shot by their own hand in one week in one city

I was about to write my own post about three tragic shootings in one city within one week. In my research, I found the attached report from a local TV station by Morgan Newell. It will give you a sense of the tragedies.

“After three children ‘accidentally’ shot themselves, community stresses gun safety – The three incidents happened within a week of each other. One was fatal.” by Morgan Newell on August 17, 2020

“CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Deadly accidental shootings by children have increased 43 percent in March and April compared to the same two months for the last three years. That is according to gun safety group ‘Everytown for Gun Safety.’

Here in Charlotte, a two-year-old shot and killed himself with his father’s unsecured gun on Saturday.

Now, the community is stressing gun safety as more important than ever.

There have been three separate accidental shootings in Charlotte in less than a week. All by kids under eight years old and all used either unsecured or mishandled guns.

The one on Rodney Road happened Sunday. Alfredo Lopez, 18, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. The child is expected to survive.

The Camp Greene shooting happened last Thursday.

The child, who police say was with his family visiting friends, is also expected to survive. Police charged Devonte Warren, 25, with failure to secure a firearm to protect a minor.

‘That right there was ridiculous,’ says one man living in the motel where the fatal shooting at Economy Inn happened.

He says he witnessed the commotion from Saturday’s shooting. He did not want to be identified but says the incident brought him to tears.

‘I was there. It was an accident. Set Antonio free,’ says one man, who claims he was in the room where the two-year-old shot himself.

He explains what happens, but he walked away before any more questions.

‘His kid found a gun himself, but nobody’s looking at that,’ he says.

‘The amount of guns that have somehow found their way in Charlotte. I don’t know how that’s happening,’ says Judith Brown, a community activist.

Judith Brown is constantly canvassing the Reagan Road area where the shooting happened. She did not know about this shooting, but she feels it is the same story she has seen in the last few months.

‘I’ve lived here for 10 years and I’ve never seen anything like it,’ she says. ‘Not having guns secure they shouldn’t even be loaded inside the house with a child.’

‘It makes you feel terrible particularly when you know they are so preventable,’ says Larry Hyatt, owners of Hyatt Gun and Coin.

According to the FBI, the agency ran 3.9 million background checks in June alone. Hyatt says safety does not stop once you are cleared.

‘You might have had your permit and your background check but where you store it is also your responsibility,’ Hyatt said. ‘If a child can get to it, they’re curious. You’re going to have an accident.’

Hyatt says the best protection is a lockbox. Even if a person wants the gun close by, he says there are ways to have access and safety. The two, Hyatt said, have to go hand in hand.

‘There’s no reason you should have a loaded gun for someone who shouldn’t have access,’ he said.

Some of the reasons Hyatt thought more people are buying guns are the pandemic and recent protests. He says people want the extra layer of protection.”

One person took offense that they arrested the owner of the gun saying it was an accident. Let me emphasize what others did in the article. It was an accident waiting to happen. To be blunt, a true accident is something unexpected happening. A child finding a loaded gun and it going off is an accident that is terribly tragic, but could have been avoided.

I have been a proponent of better gun governance in our country. There are several majority supported steps that could be taken to make us safer, without infringing on someone’s 2nd amendment rights. Yet, if people own guns, they must be hyper-vigilant in storing them away. Arresting someone who did not store a gun away that led to a child’s shooting is sadly needed to emphasize the vital importance of that responsibility.

When my children were little, they found a rifle in my father-in-law’s closet. I did not know he had one. When he told me it was loaded, I asked him to unload it when the kids were coming over. I was matter-of-fact and said we can not let them come if you do not. He, of course, did so.

I can’t breathe – a rallying cry

“I can’t breathe” is an appropriate rallying cry since this is the second time in the past few years where an African-American man has been choked by a police officer as he forwarned them “I can’t breathe.” George Floyd said the same words as Eric Garner did before he was choked to death in 2014 by police.

A black EMT named Breonna Taylor is killed in her own home when the police barges in during a raid in the middle of the night and finding nothing for her death. A black jogger named Ahmaud Arbery is chased down and killed by white vigilantes. And, Christian Cooper, fortunately is alive, but a white woman called the police on him saying a black man is threatening to kill her because she did not like him asking her to leash her dog in the park, where the signs clearly ask you to do so.

A few years ago a black twelve year old boy named Tamir Rice is gunned down by a police officer within two seconds for holding a toy gun, while a 65 year old white man is talked out of his rifle after one hour of conversation. Why the different procedures with a real gun versus a toy gun? With a man versus a little boy?

Floyd, Arbery, Taylor, and Cooper are the names that made national headlines, but sadly they are not alone. They join the ranks of names like Rice, Garner, Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Sandra Bland and Trayvon Martin and others. There are too many black men and women being killed, in general, but at the hands of law enforcement or vigilantes. Martin was killed by a vigilante watch dog who was told by police dispatchers to NOT follow the suspect. He did and Martin is dead. And, there are too many black people being jailed for the same crimes relative to whites and too many go to jail because of building, unpaid court fees. This is the new Jim Crow.

As a white man, I can go pretty much anywhere in America. I do not have to be dressed to the nines. But, a black man in his Sunday best does not have the same privilege. Further, when stopped by the police, he (or she) must be extra careful thinking if he (or she) is not, it may be the last thing he (or she) does on this earth. Think about that.

“I can’t breathe.” We must be better than this. I am proud of someone like Daryl Davis, a black man who has talked over 200 KKK members out of their robes. He did it by talking with them, asking questions and listening. Then, he asked a few more questions. Ironically, as I wrote this I was watching a movie about the true story on school integration in Durham, NC called “Best of Enemies,” which highlighted the unusual friendship that developed by a black woman named Ann Atwater and a white man named C.E. Ellis, who happened to lead the local KKK chapter. She gave the eulogy at his funeral thirty-five years later.

We must tell our politicians we cannot breathe, en masse. And, it must include whites calling out this injustice as well – when leaders fail to do so, citizens must be the loud voice. I call on people to write, call and visit their legislators. We must have them speak out against hate speech. We must have them demand police to police poor actions by their members and remedy bad behavior through training or prosecution. The police union must act like the pilot’s union and pursue to the nth degree why someone was killed, as the pilots do investigating a plane crash. I know the police have a hard and dangerous job, but it will be made easier if they earn the public’s trust and recruit and screen, investigate, learn, prosecute when needed and train their officers to handle these tough situations.

That is what this old white man thinks. I am not alone, as per the link to an article by the Mind of Brosephus. America, let’s get with it.

https://mindofbrosephus.wordpress.com/2020/05/28/a-change-will-come/

What I care about – a note received

I shared that my local newspaper published my letter to the editor whose theme was “Listen to the truthtellers.” I included the letter in a recent post. Today, I received a very gracious letter from someone I do not know thanking me for my letter and “taking a stand and for expressing my views publicly.”

Attached to the letter was a summary prepared by John Pavlovitz (see link below) entitled “What I care about.” I thought I would share that summary below:

“I care that families are being separated.
I care that medical bills are bankrupting people.
I care that we’re drowning in guns and daily shootings.
I care that we’re talking about an asinine multi-billion border wall that won’t solve a crisis, even if there were one – and there isn’t one.
I care that our climate is changing and our planet is warming and our environment being degraded ad we have politicians who see science as an adversary.
I care that this Administration solicited and welcomed foreign interference in a Presidential election.
I care that voter suppression and gerrymandering are making it almost impossible for poor people and people of color to be heard and represented.
I care that racists march without hoods now, that elementary school teachers dress up like border walls, that wrestling coaches cut off a man’s dreadlocks in public.
I care that our President is mentally unfit to lead, and that he is buffeted by a group of professional enablers who know he is unfit and defend him anyway.
I care that every single day brings new legislative attacks on people who are already pushed to the brink.
I care that we have accused predators in the White House and on the Supreme Court.
I care that Muslims are caricatured into terrorists, migrants into advancing hordes, and LGBTQ people into imminent threats, by our elected leaders.
I care about families and sick people and underpaid teachers and hungry kids and unpaid Federal workers and transgendered teenagers – and the millions of beautiful, vibrant, disparate human beings who are daily endangered by the leadership of this country.

That’s what I care about.”

This list boils down many concerns to one piece of paper. It is worth the read and reaction. Let me know your thoughts.

Note: At the bottom of the summary is a quote from Neil Carter, “Why are we voting into office men who don’t even accept basic principles of biology, geology, immunology, and astronomy, and who believe we don’t have to preserve our planet’s natural resources.”

The weblink to Pavlovitz’s blog is as follows:

https://johnpavlovitz.com/

Here, there and everywhere

A lesser known Beatles’ song penned by Lennon/ McCartney was on the Revolver album – “Here, there and everywhere.” Using this song as a title to a potpourri post seemed appropriate. In no particular order:

A stark difference in the reactions to briefings that Russia is continuing to meddle in our elections was provided this week. Senator Bernie Sanders told Putin to back off, while the president of the United States fired the acting director of the Department of National Intelligence. Former Senator John McCain said in an editorial after Trump’s kowtowing to Trump in Helsinki, that he never thought he would witness a US president taking the word of a Russian leader over that of his own intelligence people. He still is. I have shared with multiple senators for many months that we have a national security risk in the White House. His name is Donald Trump.

Wells Fargo was fined $3 billion for their actions that led to the fraudulent creation of accounts and the failure to address these issues. They had been fined hundreds of millions earlier, but they still did not realize the severity of their screw up. Something this big is traceable to the top, whether it is explicit or implicit. Implicit means they created an environment that tolerated such bad behavior.

After yet another hate inspired mass shooting, this time in Germany, it troubles me that our leaders here are not condemning this in the harshest terms as German Chancellor Angela Merkel has done. Bigotry has to be carefully taught, so the only way to teach its counterpart is to condemn bigotry again and again as wrong. Our president fails to understand this point.

On the good side, the Taliban, Afghani and US negotiators are headed for an agreement which may end hostilities and allow for the exit of more US troops. Mistrust on all sides abounds, but let’s wish for a tangible and sustainable agreement.

Finally, from mythology, people who got too close to Medusa were either shot by arrow or turned into stone. US Attorney General is realizing now he has gotten to close to Medusa damaging his reputation. So, unless he leaves the building, he will end up being shot by the proverbial arrow or turned to proverbial stone. I guess the snakes are hiding in the combover.

Have a great rest of your weekend.

Those imperfect candidates

The search for nirvana, whether it is the perfect partner, job, setting, workout, dinner, vacation, etc. is an endless search. There is no such thing. The same goes for presidential candidates, regardless of party, country, state, locality, etc. And sadly, the better candidates get tainted once they have been elected as they make compromises and decisions which you may not like. Or, maybe when looked back on with a different context, those decisions look foolish.

I have been watching the circular firing squad of the Democratic party candidates for several months. I see more fanatical followers of candidates use a scorched earth mindset to destroy the candidates that are not their favorite. I witnessed this in 2016, when some Bernie Sanders were so adamantly against an imperfect Hillary Clinton, they could not bring themselves to vote for her. The current US president used this ammunition to create even more distaste and get those voters to stay home, vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein or even vote for him as a change agent. It worked as he needed less than 100,000 voters spread among three states to win.

Every Democratic candidate has good selling points. And, every Democrat candidate has faults. I will not belabor either one of these lists, as my purpose is not to analyze the veracity of one or the other here. I will save that for a future post, when the slate gets more manageable. I will add every Democrat candidate has a better moral and ethical compass than that of the incumbent president. Conservative writer David Brooks noted that Trump does not seem to be able to show empathy. Almost every situation is exploited to elevate himself. Yet, in so doing, he reveals a very shallow and egomaniacal person. At times he reveals his corrupt nature.

Yes, I want the next president to focus on climate change, healthcare, career training for new and emerging jobs, better gun governance, etc. Yes, I would like them to deal with the debt and deficit. Yes, I would like them to restore America’s reputation as a trusted, fair and reasonable global partner. But, I would like my president to represent our better angels, not our worst demons. The current one does not. Issues are used to divide, not galvanize. I want a president to shine a spotlight on poor behavior, not condone it or discount it.

So, as people look for perfect candidates, remember this biblical example. We had only one perfect person walk the earth – and we killed him. Let’s not kill the Democrat candidate in search for nirvana.

A few why moments the past decade

Since I speak often that we need to ask more why questions, as well as a few more what, how, and when questions, permit me to ask a few why questions about the past decade.

Why would Prince Andrew think it was a good idea for him to visit a known pedophile’s house and be photographed with teen girls he is accused of having sex with?

Why do people still not find it a national security concern when a US president bends over backwards to support various Russian narratives and running shadow diplomacy?

Why do mass shootings continue at such a rampant rate in the US and no tangible action is taken to address these and everyday shootings?

Why do the kids (such as Greta Thunberg, Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, eg) understand our climate change and gun problems better than many adults?

Why are two of the heroes of the decade female – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who led to new gun laws in one week after mass shooting and the 16 year old climate activist, Thunberg?

Why have people allowed the media to be labeled around the world as enemies of the people by so-called leaders not known for truth – Trump, Putin, Bolsonaro, Duterte, Xi, Johnson, Erdogan, et al?

Why are we not actively condemning hate groups for domestic terrorism – this is not right?

Why is the current White House trying to solve our growing poverty problem by kicking people off their healthcare and food stamps, and defanging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau designed to punish predatory lending?

Why is there not a bigger outcry for screwing over our Kurdish allies who fought our enemies?

Why is the Hong Kong story being covered far more than China’s abduction and brainwashing of Muslim and other religious groups within concentration camps?

There are so many more why questions than I have space. Please add a few of yours.